Advice for Early Career Seekers
As Sleegal AI continues to grow, we continue to hire a good number of very bright new team members. During their interview, one of the things we promise them is that we will be here to help mentor, coach and encourage career growth. So what advice can we offer?
“I’m flexible — I want to be rich and famous, but I’ll settle for rich.”
Only do what you love.
This may make you frown a bit. I myself personally made this mistake early in my career. Instead of seeking passion and love, I went with fame and money. After spending three years in law school, I became a big law associate in New York City. The starting salary was $125k (that was in 2006), with a bonus. But money doesn’t buy happiness. I didn’t like a single thing I was doing. I felt under-appreciated, did not use my intellect, and did not fit into the culture. I had to make many expensive decisions, later on, to actually find what I love, such as going back to get my MBA. The point being, do try to figure out what you love first, and the rest will come. If you hate your day to day work, chances are that you will suck at it. Even if you convince yourself to do a moderately decent job, you will not be happy. You will be so much happier doing what you love and get compensated for it.
Keep an open mind.
With the first point being made, do keep an open mind. Don’t makeup stories like I did, thinking that being a corporate lawyer on wall street is cool. Ask questions, get internships, talk to people. Read about different careers and people’s opinions on that career path. While we shouldn’t rely on movies and social media to imagine people’s lives, we should also not believe in one statement that being an accountant is miserable. Try it out, that’s why at Sleegal AI we offer our interns the opportunity to try out different things, from marketing to business development to data annotation, so you can get a real feel of what each job is like.
Generalist is king.
I once read a book about why this age of computers and machines is making the super-specialized professions obsolete. The truth is in a few years the machine will do most of the tedious, repetitive work that humans currently do. What’s left for the human? What the machines lack in creativity we humans often excel at. We can draw from a large amount of information and develop intuitions about it, such as new entrepreneurship ideas, a piece of new artwork, strategy, future visions. So for folks early in their careers, I encourage you to try different things. Find a field where you are exposed to different things. For example, I worked as a procurement professional buying different things. In the morning I could be buying a fancy piece of simulation software talking to scientists, in the afternoon I could be haggling about the most healthy snack options for the company. I find that to be intellectually challenging and just point blank interesting. Try different things, do different things, at some point, the dots will connect.
I recommend you listen to Satya Nadella’s talk about Mindset. For Satya, there are two kinds of people in this world: they learn it all and they know it all. Never allow yourself to become the latter, even when you are a highly successful executive at a large company. Never stop learning, being curious, and eager to grow. That’s how you can push your career to the next level.